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It Keeps You Runnin’.

Brrrr.  It is cold.  Like, freezing-your-butt-off cold.  Which is pretty normal for Winter, I suppose, but it seems extra chilly at the moment.  We’ve had some wild, stormy weather with thunderstorms and heavy rains, hail and flooding, and people have lost their fences and roofs.  I had a few pot plants go for a tumble, but that’s about it.

In a continuing attempt to be healthy and lose weight, I have been walking and / or running, regardless of the weather.  In some ways, exercising in crummy weather is better for me, for several reasons :

  1.  Less people around to witness my lack of coordination and grace.
  2.  If you’re drenched with rain, no one can tell if you’re sweating.
  3.  People think you’re very dedicated and diligent.
  4.  You can wear big baggy raincoats and wet weather gear and
    hide your flabby bits.
  5.  Ditto wearing hoodies and other head-covering ensembles.  Bad hair be damned!
  6.  When you finally get back home to the warm and dry, it seems SO MUCH  warmer and drier by default.
  7. You can be a bit smug about how disciplined you are (see # 3.)

I must admit it has been VERY hard to get motivated (although the size of my thighs should be motivation enough) and some days I would rather go straight home, put my PJs on, and stay warm with a cup of tea and Vincent D’Onofrio (via a Criminal Intent DVD).  This week it has been difficult to organise walking times because I’ve worked overtime and had car issues.  And I’ve been lazy.  But I try and go at least a few times a week, even if I just pop out at lunchtime for a quick trek around the block.  It’s better than nothing.  This is what I tell myself anyway.

There have been days when it has been raining so hard I have come home COMPLETELY drenched, and my sneakers are making that gross squelchy-squeaky noise that sounds like you’re walking on dead frogs.  I’ve got raindrops in my ears, crazy hair, and small puddles in my pockets, but that’s ok.  I’m still glad I have made the effort and have one less reason to feel bad about myself.  It’s so easy to fall back into house-slug habits and just go straight home, after a day at work sitting on my bum in front of a computer, with no exercise or fresh air.  But I’m trying to do better and get out there.

So, I shall continue to waddle around, rain or shine, with little guilt-ridden breaks in the middle where I “forget” to do any exercise at all.   I will stop to take photos and watch dogs play.  I will run when there’s no one else around, and walk when there is.  I will try not to spoil it all by coming home and eating a cookie.  But, even if I do, I will forgive myself and start over the next day.  That’s the biggest hurdle for me.

x

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Breathe, Dammit!

My body has been playing some nasty tricks on me lately. By lately, I mean all of my life. But, especially lately, it seems to be really amping up the symptoms, making me imagine all sorts of diseases and physical abnormalities. I hurt my back a few weeks ago – a combination of couging, over-extending and just being a bit careless. It really scared me – the pain was horrible and I could barely stand up straight. My doctor told me it was just an acute issue and would resolve itself with rest and all the usual remedies – heat packs, anti-inflammatory gel (I can’t take the tablets) and the use of my beloved TENS machine (seriously – do you have one? They are THE BEST!). The pain did go away and I gingerly went back to my normal day-to-day routine. Until I bent over a bit weirdly and hurt it again. The pain went away much quicker this time and I thought it was all going to be ok. Until, this week, the pins and needles started in my legs and feet. Immediate meltdown from me, imagining everything from Parkinson’s disease to strokes and irreversible nerve damage. I am nothing if not a drama queen.

So, faced with these horrible imaginings, I took my doctor’s advice and went to a physio she had recommended. This morning, anxiety levels high and ability-to-cope-with-bad-news levels low, I spent an hour with said physio. She was awesome. Very thorough and kind, she talked about everything that my body is going through and how much of it is probably related to my overall anxiety and stress, combined with my really ridiculously tight muscles (brought on by stress and anxiety…you get the idea). She didn’t do the whole “it’s all in your head and you just need to relax” speech – she was very sympathetic and explained things. Because I have a history of nerve damage and neurological issues (from my meningitis), this also sets the body up to be hyper-responsive to stress and any physical sensation, especially if that sensation mirrors anything my body went through when I was really ill.

She was happy with my back and spine in general – didn’t find anything there to be concerned about (I was worrying about bulging discs) and my overall movement and range was ok. But I need to fix my breathing. This has always been an issue with me – I am a shallow breather, barely moving at all when I take a breath. The physio said she couldn’t even tell if I was actually breathing or not. So I have to learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. This is really tricky for me – I always hold my tummy in, even when supposedly relaxed – so it will take some time for me to retrain myself. I have had numerous doctors and physios tell me this. Now I HAVE to do something about it and really persevere with it (I am actually trying to do belly breathing right now as I type this). Because I don’t want to keep getting these problems.

Work has been incredibly stressful, with lots of redundancies and overall workplace anxiety.  Some days are really miserable and lonely – this does not help my mental wellbeing.  I miss my friends and the camaraderie that you get when you work together every day.  My workload has tripled and I am not always a happy camper.  Basically, I am a grumpy, stressed-out hag most days.  Having fuzzy feelings in my legs (and not just because I haven’t shaved them) is another stressor I could do without.  But I will take the pins and needles over the horrible back pain.  THAT I can live without, thank you.

I need to work on my fitness levels and stop the stress-eating (ie bingeing) that I have been doing.  My weight has crept up and that’s making me feel crummy.  I’m not exercising at all at the moment and that’s making me feel guilty AND crummy.  So I need to improve lots of things, starting with my coping mechanisms and mindfulness and the whole breathing thing.  So much work to do!

The Universe keeps telling me, in its own not-so-subtle way, that I need to chill out and calm down, stop worrying and de-stress, otherwise I will get sick or develop weird pains and other annoying bodily issues.  Pretty much every illness I’ve ever had has been stress-related, so I need to do something about it.  I don’t even know how to begin.  I don’t know HOW to stress less.  But I am going to have to learn, quick smart.

Do you have a really simple method for de-stressing?  For learning how to not worry?  All suggestions and advice gratefully received!

Thanks for dropping by – take care of yourselves x

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Bells Rapids Hike

In my effort to lose weight, get fit, and be healthier, I have been taking part in some hikes recently.  I have always enjoyed walking, especially if it’s somewhere with nice scenery, and having a group of friends to go with is even nicer.  Makes it feel less like exercise and more like an enjoyable, good-for-the-soul activity.  If you can follow it up with a delicious brunch somewhere, all the better 🙂

I recently went on a lovely 5.5km hike with some friends (one of my friends, SR, is VERY good at organising things and puts me to shame because she MAKES THINGS HAPPEN, unlike me who procrastinates and can’t make decisions) around Bells Rapids, located in Brigadoon, about 45 minutes from Perth City.  A great spot to view the white water rapids of the Avon River while surrounded by beautiful bushland. Plenty of quiet, shady spots to take a rest, with trails for walking – some of them very steep and rocky – and glorious views.  Sitting by the rock pools was lovely and calming, especially after the vigorous hike up the hill.  I don’t have the greatest balance at the best of times, so I found it as bit treacherous at times, trying to keep my footing amid all the loose rocks and gravel.  Still fun though 🙂

There is plenty of parking and dogs are welcome.  Camping is not allowed, but you can certainly have a picnic there or hang out for the day.  The weekends are a popular time, but it isn’t crowded with people.  Room for everyone!  In the Winter months, the rock pools become swirling, white-water rapids, and (crazy) people come from miles around to take part in the annual Avon Descent.

Anyway, I will let my photos illustrate how lovely a spot it was.
I will definitely be back.

Hope you will stop in again here too 🙂

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Beach Vibes

I am not very bright.  Sometimes I am downright dumb.  Case in point : only just discovering this beach, only 10 minutes from my work, when I have been at this job for four years.  Four years!  I could have been going to the ocean every week for the past four years!  What a dufus!  Geography, to be fair, has never been my strong suit, and I never drive in the direction of the coast – I am always in a hurry to just get the heck away from work ha ha.  I just want to go home at the end of the day.

So, now my walking schedule has taken on a much more pleasant vibe.  I LOVE the beach – it is my favourite place to be.  I love the sand and the seashells, the water and the sea air.  I don’t care that my hair gets messed up or that I get sand everywhere.  I actually feel content and happy near the ocean.  It is calming and soothing and makes me feel small and safe all at the same time.  Plus, it is so beautiful and much nicer to look at than a sidewalk or a road, when exercising.

A brisk, half-hour walk along the beach is restorative and cleansing and great exercise.  You feel it in your calves and legs and spirit.  And, for some reason, I don’t feel self-conscious at the beach.  This may be because there are more scantily-clad ladies around than I, so I don’t feel that anyone is bothering to look at me, wheezing along the shore in my daggy shorts and t-shirt.

I’d like to say I am exercising every day, but I’d be lying.  Life isn’t simple or straight forward this year and so free time is not always something I have.  But, I am trying to fit in as many walking days as I can.  With a location like this, I have no excuse, and I actually look forward to going.  I collect shells and take photos, watch the people surfing, and just breathe the fresh air.  It’s good for the soul.

I promise to post some crafting things soon – I’ve just been so busy with life and haven’t been able to get stuck into anything creative at all.  But I have got a couple of projects in the works and will post them here soon.

Hope you are having a sunshiney, happy day 🙂

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Crazy people surfing with parachutes!
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Lacey Waves!

 

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Beautiful Ocean and Sunshine

 

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An obviously well-loved part of the beach.  Look at all those footprints!
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Gettin’ darker and moodier…
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Just one lone surfer left…

 

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The tide’s a-comin’!

 

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See.  I do actually walk as well as stop and take photos!
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How to Measure Christmas

Christmas Day is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come up this year.  I probably say that every year, but this last twelve months has whizzed by, and so much has happened.  It’s been such a strange, disturbing year, with a lot of loss and grief for so many people.  I don’t know about you, but I am praying for a much kinder 2017.

My Mum is currently suffering with a nasty cough/virus and it makes me very anxious.  I can’t bear for her to be ill.  She is always so healthy and I sometimes forget she is a senior now, and small illnesses can be potentially dangerous.  Also, being sick at Christmas sucks!  I know she feels miserable and concerned and also annoyed that she can’t do a lot – she hates neglecting her garden and other chores.  I just worry incessantly, especially as I am not just around the corner but 30 minutes drive away, and I can’t keep a close eye on her.  Luckily, my best friend’s Mum is just around the corner – in fact, she is taking Mum to the doctor’s this morning (I would have done but had no one to cover me at work). Hopefully she will get some antibiotics (even though she hates taking them, she admits she probably needs some this time) and be on the mend soon.  We’re meant to be spending Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, but I don’t know if she will be well enough at this stage 😦

It’s funny how, in the lead up to Christmas, you think about all the things you would like, and hope that Santa obliges.  This year, I just want my Mum to be well, and for us all to have a nice, peaceful, stress-free time together, with no dramas.

This week, I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in record time.  I have less people to buy for this year, for one reason or another, and it made it much easier.  I made a few gifts too, which meant less spending (always a good thing) and less stress (a very good thing).  I also decided not to do the fancy wrapping I always do, which usually ends up with me stressed out of my brain and wrapping gifts every night until midnight, making sure they all fit a “theme” and all look decorative and pretty.  Not this year.  I used store-bought wrapping paper and did nothing fancier than tying them with string.  I didn’t even use matching tags!  *gasps*  It just made everything so much easier and quicker and reduced my stress by about a million percent.  I am wrapped and done, ahead of time.

Whilst looking for gifts for my Mum, I pretty much followed the list she had given me (an Ian Rankin book, some gardening stuff, a Michael Buble CD, pyjamas) but I always like to get her some other little extras too, so she has some surprises.  I found this set of measuring cups in an op-shop and thought she might like them.  They look vintage (although I suspect they are not) and I liked the little Wintery scene on them, which I thought would also make them ideal for Christmas decorating, if Mum didn’t want to use them as actual measuring cups.  I just thought they were sweet.  And at $5.00 for the three, I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.

I hope she likes them, and is well enough to enjoy all of her presents.
That’s all I want for Christmas.

Best wishes to you all.  Stay well and take care of each other x

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Savoury Porridge

I am trying to improve myself this year. I have failed miserably for most of 2016 (mostly because, through one thing or another, I’ve been a bit miserable, to be honest!) and haven’t really achieved anything. I’m sleeping badly (or not at all), I’m eating badly (or, again, not at all) and exercise has completely left the building – or, at least, it would have done if hadn’t just collapsed into a lazy lump on the couch. Basically, I have fallen in to a bit of a slump. A schlump, if you will. It’s not good, and I know it.

One thing I have been relying on too much is sugar. I went for years not having much sugar at all and now I have not only fallen off the wagon but completely lost sight of it as it hurtles away, possibly with a wheel missing and the rest of it on fire. I worry about getting diabetes and weight gain and other health issues that the sweet little demon causes. So I need to stop. And really stop – no cheating, missy!

I’m never going to be one of those people who avoids sugar altogether – let’s just be realistic here for a moment – but I should try and cut down and limit it to a healthy amount. So it’s more of a treat than a daily indulgence.

One thing I have always found a bit difficult, in regards to avoiding sugar, is the whole breakfast scenario. I love cereal – I could eat it for every meal. Give me a bowl of muesli and I am a happy girl. Cheerios? Yep – love ’em! (but have recently weaned myself off them). I eat porridge a lot too and try to add as little sugar as possible, but it’s still SUGAR. I could have toast for breakfast or an egg, but I don’t want to have those things everyday. In the old days I would have happily scarfed down a bowl of baked beans, but I can’t have them regularly now, because of my kidneys.

So, what’s a girl to do? She tries savoury porridge, that’s what she, um, do. And, let me tell you, it’s delicious. Satisfying and warming and yummy. Easy to make and you can make a batch and then reheat it later, or the next day. I actually look forward to getting up in the morning now. Well, sort of. Porridge can only work so many miracles, after all.

Savoury Porridge is a bit trendy at the moment, but that’s ok. It might be nice for me to be on trend for once, and I think this particular option might be one I stick with for a while, because it’s versatile and adaptable and doesn’t require me to have a whole bunch of ingredients on hand. I can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and not feel guilty about it at any time of day. If I want to amp up the decadent factor, I can add cheese or something fancy like truffle oil (note to self : buy truffle oil!) or I can leave it plain and not muck about with it too much.  A poached egg on top is divine
(as is anything topped with a poached egg, to be fair).

The recipe I am using here is Mark Bittman‘s Savoury Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce from Serious Eats.  Ok, so we call scallions spring onions over here and we say porridge instead of oatmeal…big deal.   Still tastes yummo-licious.  Give it a try – it really does make a nice change and it is healthy and super quick to make, even if you’re like me and hopeless in the mornings.  I added some flakes of nori to my porridge, but you can leave that out if you like.  It just adds some extra umami flavour and interest.

Ingredients

1 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Cups Water
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Chopped Spring Onion + 1 Teaspoon Chopped for Garnish
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Nori Flakes

Combine oats, water and salt in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil and then turn down to low.
Cook until water almost absorbed.
Turn off heat, add spring onions and soy sauce (and nori flakes if adding).

Serve with extra spring  onion as garnish.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Hippo-Critical

A funny little card today.  I was playing around with some animal biology pictures and really liked the shape of the hippo.  Who doesn’t love a hippo!?  Sure, they’re chubby and grumpy and have kinda bad teeth but, all things considered, they’re pretty neat critters.  Top them off with a free-loading bird and you’ve got a quirky design and a card that you can pretty much guarantee no one else will have!

Made a big decision to go back on my anti-depressants this week.  Really didn’t want to, but I have to be sensible and take my own advice about looking after yourself.  I always tell everyone else to stay on their meds if they need them to function, and I was being hypocritical thinking I could manage without them.  Crying every day, sleeping all the time, feeling crummy and anxious and sad and generally getting very low is NOT managing.  Plus I have been worrying my Mum and I hate doing that – she deserves to have a worry-free life.  So I went to my GP and got a new prescription and will be a good girl and stay on them now.  Possibly for good – we’ll see how I go.  There’s so much stress in my life at the moment, now is not the time to be a martyr to my brain’s chemistry. There’s no prize for being miserable when you don’t need to be.

So, onwards and upwards.  Or, at least, less downward spiralling.

Hope you are feeling ok today – look after yourselves x

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